Getting a divorce is never a decision made lightly. While some marriages break down naturally with the passage of time, others end due to other reasons such as infidelity, addiction, or abuse.
One common reason for the end of a marriage is the existence of alcoholism in the relationship. When one party to a marriage suffers from alcoholism, this can often make matters even more complicated and emotional when it comes time to end the relationship.
In this blog, we will discuss the relationship between alcoholism and divorce in Alabama, as well as the challenges that can arise when divorcing an alcoholic. If you have questions about how to move forward, contact or call our divorce attorneys at (256) 859-7277 to discuss your case and see how we can help you move forward.
Alcoholism and Divorce in Alabama
In 2021, Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) affected more than 28 million adults in the United States.
It is well-known that alcoholism can have severe consequences on an individual’s health, both mind and body. However, it can also impact the relationship between spouses.
Alcoholism can lead to a number of relationship problems such as:
- Lack of intimacy,
- Financial problems,
- Deception and mistrust,
- Codependency, and
Unfortunately, as a result, it is not uncommon for persistent abuse of alcohol by one or both parties to a marriage to result in divorce.
Is Alcoholism Grounds for Divorce in Alabama?
Alabama, like most states, is a no-fault divorce state. Nevertheless, Alabama also permits fault-based divorce when one party’s misconduct is the primary reason for the divorce. If one spouse can prove the other was participating in an act that justifies a fault-based divorce, it can affect the distribution of marital assets and custody decisions. In Alabama, alcoholism is one such justification for fault divorce.
Under Alabama Code section 30-2-1(a)(6), one of the specifically enumerated grounds for fault divorce is “habitual drunkenness.” Alabama likely includes alcoholism in its list of grounds for divorce because the state recognizes that an alcohol addiction can cause irreparable harm to a marriage.
However, It is important to note that an alcohol addiction is only a justifiable reason for fault divorce if it happens after the marriage. This means you cannot get married to someone who is an obvious alcoholic then later request a divorce under this statute because of it.
That said, in the above example, this does not mean that you have no options if you knew of your spouse’s alcoholism prior to the marriage and later decided to get a divorce. Rather, you may still seek a no-fault divorce by filing on grounds of incompatibility, or you could allege another fault-based reason for divorce if there is one.
How Can I Prove Someone Is Addicted to Alcohol?
Notably, if you are requesting a fault-based divorce, the divorce judge will not simply take your word for your spouse’s misconduct. Instead, you will likely need to present evidence in support of your allegations of their escalating alcohol abuse.
Evidence that may help bolster your case includes:
- A history of drunk driving convictions,
- Results of a substance abuse evaluation,
- Statements from law enforcement or probation officers,
- Text messages or voicemails from your spouse admitting they are addicted to alcohol,
- Financial documents showing repeated transactions at liquor establishments, and
- Your personal testimony about your spouse’s alcohol addiction and its impact on your family.
A divorce lawyer can create a strategy to demonstrate the full extent of the alcohol addiction and its effect on your marriage.
Impacts of Alcoholism on Divorce
When one party to the marriage suffers from alcoholism, this can impact the divorce proceedings in a variety of ways.
For example, Alabama courts can take the existence of alcoholism into consideration when making determinations regarding:
The severity of the alcohol addiction and the damage your spouse’s addiction has inflicted on you and your loved ones may also be taken into account.
Speak with an Experienced Alabama Divorce Attorney Today
Divorcing an alcoholic can present a number of challenges, but having qualified legal counsel and a strong support system can make the process feel more manageable.
At The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, we know just how complicated and emotional it can be to make the difficult decision to end your marriage. However, we also recognize that sometimes, doing so is what may be necessary to protect what matters most—you and your family.
When you’re ready to get started, our team will be there to guide you through your divorce with the knowledge, support, compassion, and legal counsel you need and deserve.